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Moulding in Empathy

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It was a science lecture and all the students had gathered in the lab to conduct a small experiment. Saivansh forgot to mix the correct compounds and his litmus paper did not change colour. When teacher moved around to supervise and stood in front of Saivansh, she questioned him. He was still confused and didn’t know what to say. She was short tempered and while scolding him, asked another kid to assist Saivansh. All eyes were on him and the room was filled with giggles. Needless to say, Saivansh was crestfallen and on the verge of tears.

What happened with Saivansh is nothing strange and so very relatable. Many of us have become a laughing stock for others, especially in our growing up years. What the society lacks today is EMPATHY.
To inculcate values in children can be quite challenging, but at the same time, needs to be done from an early age. What exactly is empathy? The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Keeping yourself in another’s place and trying to understand what he or she might be going through. 

Empathy is often called a soft skill and many see it as a weakness, or as gender-specific. This is so not true. People are not born empathic. We need to learn this skill and the sooner it is taught in life, the better. The most common trait of a kid is to laugh at others, without giving a thought to its side effects or what that person might feel. 
At a tender age, for a child it is difficult to understand and develop empathy. He or she would better comprehend kindness. So the best path to lead to becoming empathetic is to help children show kindness towards others. The simple act of not laughing at another’s mistake can be a good beginning of kindness. Kids need to digest that we must not do to others what we ourselves may not appreciate. 

Believe me, kids learn more from observing, than being told. Parents and teachers are their prime role models whom they follow blindly. When you have strong, respectful relationships and interact with others in a kind and caring way, your child learns from your example.
It’s vital to value others’ thoughts and feelings. The trick is to help children see how their actions affect others. Stories are an excellent way to guide our younger generation towards becoming empathetic. A good 10 minutes story will work wonders, what your one hour lecture won’t be able to.

As adults, we are always ready to pounce when our kids make a mistake. Ask yourself. Are we equally eager to reward and appreciate when they do something good? Sadly, NO. In growing up years, every small act of goodness needs a pat on the back. You’ll be surprised to know, your small appreciations in his childhood, will go a long way in building his character and making him a better person. 

Last but not the least, when you are being empathetic, you not only slip your feet in another’s shoes, but it greatly reduces your own stress level. Once you know why he or she acted in a particular way, anger and irrigation leaves your body, making you stress free. 

A well known man has said, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.”
Let’s help our children practice this invaluable skill and refine them for a superior tomorrow. 

Shamim Merchant

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